Ask Me Anything • Licensed Master Plumber

guitardad said:

Hi Jaytee, good question. Though I've never done it before, based on what I've watched/read, I should be able to do it. Though not sure how much sediment may have built up near the outlet at this point, so I was concerned it might not even flow out. The ultimate goal of having it run clear was one of the things I read about. 

just open the valve. I think you need a flat head screwdriver to do it. Turn counterclockwise to open. Make sure you have a bucket under the spigot or connect a garden hose to the sump pump. It’s not that difficult. 


We are thinking of installing a "powder room" toilet and hand wash sink room on the first floor of our house.  Space is tight.  What are the minimum floor space requirements for a powder room?   I also understand that building/plumbing permits,  hot, cold water, sink, and toilet drains, vents, and fresh air ventilation will be required.   Should I call the Township Construction Official?  But first, before getting too far along, I want to know the minimum floor space to see if the project is even feasible.  


RobertRoe said:

We are thinking of installing a "powder room" toilet and hand wash sink room on the first floor of our house.  Space is tight.  What are the minimum floor space requirements for a powder room?   I also understand that building/plumbing permits,  hot, cold water, sink, and toilet drains, vents, and fresh air ventilation will be required.   Should I call the Township Construction Official?  But first, before getting too far along, I want to know the minimum floor space to see if the project is even feasible.  

how much is your tight space? I’m thinking 5x4 feet. Say 20 sq ft. Anything smaller than that is tight. I just did mine last month. Remodeled the existing powder room, mine is 5x4. You should check with your local building department though. 


Jaytee said:

RobertRoe said:

We are thinking of installing a "powder room" toilet and hand wash sink room on the first floor of our house.  Space is tight.  What are the minimum floor space requirements for a powder room?   I also understand that building/plumbing permits,  hot, cold water, sink, and toilet drains, vents, and fresh air ventilation will be required.   Should I call the Township Construction Official?  But first, before getting too far along, I want to know the minimum floor space to see if the project is even feasible.  

how much is your tight space? I’m thinking 5x4 feet. Say 20 sq ft. Anything smaller than that is tight. I just did mine last month. Remodeled the existing powder room, mine is 5x4. You should check with your local building department though. 

My childhood best friend had the smallest bathroom I'd ever seen. It was squeezed into a spot that may have been a kitchen pantry previously. The sink was the tiniest thing - maybe half the size of a piece of paper. I kinda liked it because it seemed 'child sized'... and kinda didn't like it because you could feel a bit claustrophobic in there. I'm guessing it wouldn't meet code now...


I am working on this space problem and will report when I have the plan worked out.  Our major reason for doing this is that some guests have a lot of trouble walking up or down stairs, so we want to be able to have them as quests without this impediment.  Plus it will probably add value to the house.   Thanks to all.


guitardad said:

Hi, I have a question concerning a gas hot-water heater. It's a standard, AO Scott, 48-gallon. Lately in our family of four we've been noticing that the hot water runs out quicker than before. It's been a few months of this. After some research I realized I've been missing out on the draining part of owning a hot-water heater. Embarrassing, but it's now been in use for about 10 years and I've never drained it to reduce the sediment. We have incoming hard water and no softener for the house. I'm wondering if it can still be drained with any hope of improvement, or should I just take my lumps and start looking for a new one?  Thanks very much in advance!

The bad news is that after 10 years, the sediment on the bottom your water heater is solidified and opening that little drain on the bottom isn't going to do much to help get rid of it. 
The good news is that it's probably not the problem. The water picks up most of its heat from the flue gases as they travel up through the unit and cool down as they reach the exit. 
Keep in mind, any water heater with a fixed BTU input is only able to raise the temperature of water a finite amount at a given rate. By that I mean, it is generally accepted in the industry that it takes 50,000 BTUs to raise the temperature of water 70°F at a rate of 1 gallon per minute (1 GPM). So 50° water from the main heated at 50,000 BTUs will give you 1 gallon of 120° water per minute. 
Now, in our part of the world, in winter the ground and reservoirs cool down and the incoming water can be much cooler than 50°. That means that same water heater will struggle to make 120° water. 

This is how "instantaneous" and tankless water heaters provide "endless" hot water. They slow the flow rate down to meet the unit's ability to meet the desired temperature rise. 

And so on and so forth....  


master_plvmber said:

The bad news is that after 10 years, the sediment on the bottom your water heater is solidified and opening that little drain on the bottom isn't going to do much to help get rid of it. 
The good news is that it's probably not the problem. The water picks up most of its heat from the flue gases as they travel up through the unit and cool down as they reach the exit. 
Keep in mind, any water heater with a fixed BTU input is only able to raise the temperature of water a finite amount at a given rate. By that I mean, it is generally accepted in the industry that it takes 50,000 BTUs to raise the temperature of water 70°F at a rate of 1 gallon per minute (1 GPM). So 50° water from the main heated at 50,000 BTUs will give you 1 gallon of 120° water per minute. 
Now, in our part of the world, in winter the ground and reservoirs cool down and the incoming water can be much cooler than 50°. That means that same water heater will struggle to make 120° water. 

This is how "instantaneous" and tankless water heaters provide "endless" hot water. They slow the flow rate down to meet the unit's ability to meet the desired temperature rise. 

And so on and so forth....  

Thanks very much. Well that's interesting. So you think that sediment might not be why the there's been less available hot water for the last few months? Though I will mention that we've never raised the temp of the water heater above the triangle marker setting (just past the lower temp settings) in 10 yrs. I have plenty of room to raise the temp if that might make a difference.


guitardad said:

Thanks very much. Well that's interesting. So you think that sediment might not be why the there's been less available hot water for the last few months? Though I will mention that we've never raised the temp of the water heater above the triangle marker setting (just past the lower temp settings) in 10 yrs. I have plenty of room to raise the temp if that might make a difference.

put it at A and see if it improves. I keep mine at B . 
you are using more hot water during the cold winter months, could be why you’re running out of hot water quicker.


Adding a gas line for your new BBQ grill this spring?
Here are some things to consider. Do you have enough gas? If you’re on the grid, there is pipe that comes in from the street that carries lots and lots of natural gas to your meter. Unfortunately, there is a maximum amount your meter can dispense to your home and that amount is spelled out on the affixed ratings label riveted to the meter face. The gas volume is expressed in Cubic Feet per Hour, or CFH. Since 1 cubic foot of gas delivers 1,000 BTUs, the conversion to British Thermal Units is easy: 1 CFH = 1,000 BTUs.Below, the pictured gas meter delivers 275 CFH, or 275 Cubic Feet per Hour. It’s no coincidence that this type of meter is called an “R-275” device. Usually, but not always, the amount of gas the meter delivers is in the name, type, or “class” of the meter.So, you need to know your home’s current total BTU load. This means adding up the BTUs or gas input rating of all the current gas appliances: the boiler, water heater, cooking range, oven, dryer, generator, and anything else that uses natural gas. Each of these things, by law, has to have a sticker or something that indicates its gas usage. Now subtract that value from the potential BTU delivery of your meter. Whatever you’ve got left, that’s what is available for your new BBQ grill.


Discovered how important working shut off valves are after having one fail and winding up with a mess in our kitchen.  Didn't have a regular plumber to call so we relied on the postings on MOL for Master_Plvmber and decided to use them.  They were responsive to our call and came on time and completed the job as promised.  Even pointed out additional work that should be done.  Part of owning an old Maplewood home.

Can't say enough about Jason and Rick who completed the job.  Would suggest them to anyone needing any type of plumbing work.

Thanks Master_Plvmber


Hello. 

Maybe off topic. Do you have any opinion on the DIY mini split AC/Heat Pumps on the market?


FrankEastCedar said:

Discovered how important working shut off valves are after having one fail and winding up with a mess in our kitchen.  Didn't have a regular plumber to call so we relied on the postings on MOL for Master_Plvmber and decided to use them.  They were responsive to our call and came on time and completed the job as promised.  Even pointed out additional work that should be done.  Part of owning an old Maplewood home.

Can't say enough about Jason and Rick who completed the job.  Would suggest them to anyone needing any type of plumbing work.

Thanks Master_Plvmber

I'm just seeing this. Thanks so much for taking the time to post a good experience. We appreciate you. 


mrincredible said:

Hello. 

Maybe off topic. Do you have any opinion on the DIY mini split AC/Heat Pumps on the market?

I really don't. We don't install a lot of them and the salesmen all insist theirs is the best. I can't nail down a specific feature that would make one considerably better than another. They all seem to work great. 


My mom had a lot of water coming out of her shower faucet handle.  It's a delta.  I ended up getting the right part, but after install, I'm still getting a little drip.  Could some washers be out of line? I think there was no drip after turning the water back on in the house.  only after turning it off and on did the drip start.

I feel it's closed pretty tight. 


Jamie, the brass stem with the notches has to be in the correct position. You can rotate it and see if that helps. Those mixers are tough to remove. 


yeah - notches are in the right place.  One of the springs/washers popped out - I think I need to make sure that's aligned properly.


jamie said:

yeah - notches are in the right place.  One of the springs/washers popped out - I think I need to make sure that's aligned properly.

the spring has a rubber washer at the end I think. Careful, if the rubber washer is missing it won’t make a perfect seal and water will drip through. 


Maybe I need to add a little to the back washers see how close the hole is to the edge?  Hmm


jamie said:

Maybe I need to add a little to the back washers see how close the hole is to the edge?  Hmm

If you bought the complete cartridge the springs and rubber washers should be intact in there. It’s a very tight fit, so take it back out, apply some Vaseline around the cartridge, put it back in and tighten down that metal ring. If that ring is not pulling the cartridge all the way in, the washers won’t seal properly. 


Jaytee said:

If you bought the complete cartridge the springs and rubber washers should be intact in there. It’s a very tight fit, so take it back out, apply some Vaseline around the cartridge, put it back in and tighten down that metal ring. If that ring is not pulling the cartridge all the way in, the washers won’t seal properly. 

My last thought prior to reading your reply was to get some silicone grease - which is a pretty similar solution.  I reinstalled it and the constant drip is gone.  Will see how it looks after a few hours.  Thanks!


jamie said:

My last thought prior to reading your reply was to get some silicone grease - which is a pretty similar solution.  I reinstalled it and the constant drip is gone.  Will see how it looks after a few hours.  Thanks!

Silicone grease is far better than Vaseline or any oil based product which will destroy the rubber rings in the cartridge. Good call. For the record, I'll answer questions here but I'm not going to talk over anybody who feels compelled to take the lead on a particular post. Again, good call on the grease. 


Hi. Recently developed a water hammer when flushing a toilet. The water fill has been light improves if the valve at the floor is closed then opened while filling. No other water feed issues in the bathroom. Where do I start before calling you in?


Sailorthom said:

Hi. Recently developed a water hammer when flushing a toilet. The water fill has been light improves if the valve at the floor is closed then opened while filling. No other water feed issues in the bathroom. Where do I start before calling you in?

Describe the water hammer, please. Is it a single thump or a flutter?

Try closing the fill valve to the toilet half way, then flushing. 


It started thumping violently before I tinkered with things. Now the tank fill is loud when filling and doesn't stop but the flush is good. The float goes up but the fill continues. Swap out the whole insides with a Fluidmaster total repair kit? We hope to redo this upstairs bathroom in a couple of years at most. Maybe we can get a plumbing estimate at the same time as our steam boiler service?


Swapping out the "Fluidmaster" fill valve should take care of this. It can be a DIY thing if you're any bit handy. You can leave the part that attaches to the bottom of the tank and just swap out the upper part. Still, buy the whole thing. 


I would change that supply line also while you’re at it.


Planning to swap out current tub/shower plumbing. Bought the new one and have the old one per the pics. Current system and new boxed info.  Anything else I need to order or prepare for?


Sailorthom said:

Planning to swap out current tub/shower plumbing. Bought the new one and have the old one per the pics. Current system and new boxed info.  Anything else I need to order or prepare for?

Well....I don't know what's inside your walls but I'd venture a guess that the plumbing is threaded brass. Are you prepared for removing the old tub-and-shower diverter faucet and connecting the new one to the existing plumbing? You might want to have a couple of ½" threaded shut off valves in hand in case you run into trouble and need to turn the water main back on while you're working it all out. 


I may need to run a sewer line to new construction under an existing yard.  Most  of the tunnel methods I have seen are for replacement lines, not new ones.  Ideally I would excavate a big hole at one end, bore about 50', and then excavate in a street and tie in to existing lines.  Is this possible?


DanDietrich said:

I may need to run a sewer line to new construction under an existing yard.  Most  of the tunnel methods I have seen are for replacement lines, not new ones.  Ideally I would excavate a big hole at one end, bore about 50', and then excavate in a street and tie in to existing lines.  Is this possible?

This is not really my thing but I don't know of a method of pushing a new 4" sewer pipe through 50' of earth. I would think this would require full excavation. But again, "street work" is a plumbing specialty that is not mine.


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